Matchup Analysis: Minnesota Vikings at Pittsburgh Steelers

Vegas Prediction

Vegas says: Vikings 17, Steelers 26

FBG Projections

TeamRushYardsTDCompAttPass YdTDINT

Minnesota Vikings Offense: overview

Points (vs AVG) (rank)Rush Yards (vs AVG) (rank)Pass Yards (vs AVG) (rank)
Vikings Offense29.0 (+8.8) (6)129 (+36) (6)341 (+120) (2)
Steelers Defense18.0 (-2.2) (14)57 (-35) (8)180 (-40) (13)

Pittsburgh Steelers Offense: overview

Points (vs AVG) (rank)Rush Yards (vs AVG) (rank)Pass Yards (vs AVG) (rank)
Steelers Offense21.0 (+0.8) (13)35 (-57) (29)255 (+34) (12)
Vikings Defense19.0 (-1.2) (16)60 (-32) (10)284 (+63) (25)

Vikings Rushing offense

Neutral matchup vs. the Steelers defense.

That was quite a second half from Dalvin Cook. Over the final 31:43 of the Vikings’ Week 1 win, he gathered 120 yards on 16 rushes and essentially clinched things down the stretch. Now, let’s not lose sight of the fact that 49% of his yardage came from 2 fourth-quarter runs – he gained 2 yards or less on 45% of his carries. And this eruption did come against a Saints defense that’s mediocre against the run. Cook looked awfully impressive, but there are still question marks as to his week-to-week effectiveness. His rebuilt offensive line looked impressive in Week 1, but it’s still a brand-new unit that should experience ups and downs. Cook is clearly an NFL-caliber runner, which is a great Week 1 takeaway for the Vikings. It’s just a bit too early to expect weekly dominance.

The Steelers won’t be easy to run against in 2017 – but the going got a little easier in the aftermath of Week 1. Emerging stud end Stephon Tuitt was dinged and looks week-to-week, but closer to the doubtful side. With early 2014 picks Tuitt and Ryan Shazier paying off majorly as run-stoppers, this has become an elite unit. They’ve held 9 of their last 13 opponents (playoffs included) under 80 ground yards, with some strong rushing offenses in the mix. And they overwhelmed the Browns’ elite line in their 2017 debut, holding Isaiah Crowell to just 33 yards on 17 carries. With Tuitt out, the dynamic should shift a bit, but this remains a generally strong unit.

Vikings Passing offense

Neutral matchup vs. the Steelers defense.

Sam Bradford was scintillating in Week 1, and this may well serve as his elusive Year 8 breakout. Perpetually jammed into doomed offenses with middling skill-position talent, Bradford looks reborn in Minnesota. He boasts multiple receivers who can win downfield – he’s never had that in the NFL – and has been especially accurate on deep balls of late. Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen make for a great, versatile duo all over the field, while Kyle Rudolph is a strong red-zone force. That dynamism boosts his ceiling, which has always been limited, and brightens the outlook for the entire offense. The passing game has now reached 300 yards in 3 of its last 5 games, and the team has registered 25+ points in 4 of them.

This Steelers defense is blossoming into a true force, but the coverage unit is still finding its way, so opportunities are definitely there. New cornerback Joe Haden received the team’s ceremonial game ball, but that was narrative-driven in a revenge matchup with the Browns. He was fairly average in Week 1, with Corey Coleman finding plenty of success against him. He’s no longer a week-by-week shutdown guy, and his presence doesn’t ding opposing passing games. What does pay big dividends, however, is the elite pass-rushing unit the Steelers are assembling. Rookie T.J. Watt looks fantastic, Bud Dupree could return Sunday, and the front seven is packed with opportunistic gap-shooters. It makes sense that only 4 of their last 13 opponents have topped 250 yards through the air.

Steelers Rushing offense

Good matchup vs. the Vikings defense.

LeVeon Bell was surprisingly erased from the Steelers’ Week 1 win over the Browns. Steelers backs in general have run roughshod over their rivals in recent years, but much of that dominance has been script-related, and this game stayed closer than expected. Bell’s actual performance, which was dicey, can largely be chalked up to rust or conditioning issues related to his holdout, and he’ll certainly bounce back from his 3.2-yard Week 1 average. His line is still elite, and he’s in no danger of a timeshare – on top of the fact that he boasts a 4.80 per-carry mark over 34 games since his rookie year. But expectations must be held in check while he works into game shape. Bell’s calling card – his otherworldly patience and flexibility into holes – probably needs a few weeks to re-assemble fully.

The improving Vikings run defense was on full display last Monday, thoroughly erasing Mark Ingram’s and Adrian Peterson’s early-down presences from the Saints’ game plan. This unit isn’t the most consistently dominant – 9 of their last 11 opponents have run for 94 yards or more – but they boast great personnel and took a sizeable step forward in Week 1. The defensive line is as stout as they come, and they hold elite athleticism at linebacker. They cede a decent amount of yardage, so LeVeon Bell’s production outlook is solid, but only two teams allowed fewer rushing touchdowns last year.

Steelers Passing offense

Tough matchup vs. the Vikings defense.

This Steelers passing game vacillates from one-dimensional and sluggish to dynamic and record-threatening. We saw flashes of the great in Week 1 – all from Antonio Brown, who provided big catch after big catch and drew a long pass interference penalty to set up the team’s final touchdown. But there were two key elements we didn’t see: Martavis Bryant winning battles across the field from Brown, and LeVeon Bell creating chunk plays out of the backfield. Of course, those are volatile elements that we know those two are fully capable of. Both Bryant and Bell are shaking off various degrees of rust, and we’ll certainly see (some of) the expected fireworks from both. Still, it’s hard to be fully confident in this passing game until those two are on track. Brown is fantastic and a matchup-proof play every week, but this offense needs more dynamism before we can treat it as a consistently great one. The Week 1 success of tight end Jesse James was encouraging – not so much for catch-and-fall specialist James, but on the whole, as we see just how much volume and touchdown opportunity is in play here.

Minnesota’s pass defense borders on the dominant. Last year only two NFL teams allowed fewer passing yards, and only one (Denver) allowed fewer per attempt. The pass rush is enough to deal with on its own – Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter may be the most explosive combo in football. And shutdown cornerback Xavier Rhodes has a way of erasing wideouts from game plans. In 2016, Rhodes was No. 1 among the league’s regular cornerbacks in completion rate and passer rating allowed, slowing or thoroughly shutting down the likes of Odell Beckham Jr. (3 catches for 23 yards), DeAndre Hopkins (5 for 56 and a touchdown), and Kelvin Benjamin (catchless). Rhodes is questionable for Sunday's matchup, but expected to play. Harrison Smith’s successful return to the back end only adds to the matchup nightmare. All told, it’s a minefield for opposing quarterbacks, and even a powerful attack like Pittsburgh’s is no notice.

Steelers vs QB

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)24 (+4.0)24 (+4.0)24 (+4.7)22 (+3.8)
1DeShone Kizer66203022211517121.821.819.619.6

Case Keenum (FanDuel: $6000, DraftKings: $4500)

2PROJ-Dodds23362291.40.613016.716.716.7 (H=43)16.7 (H=58)
2PROJ-Tremblay24392601.31.214017.417.417.4 (H=46)17.4 (H=62)
2PROJ-Bloom23342201.10.600014.814.814.8 (H=35)14.8 (H=47)

Sam Bradford (FanDuel: $7100, DraftKings: $5500)

1vs NO652732346302-30292925.528.5
2PROJ-Dodds00000000000.0 (H=0)0.0 (H=0)
2PROJ-Tremblay00000000000.0 (H=0)0.0 (H=0)
2PROJ-Bloom00000000000.0 (H=0)0.0 (H=0)

Steelers vs RB

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)6 (-7.3)6 (-7.0)8T (-5.0)7T (-5.5)
1Isaiah Crowell5217330223306.68.69.610.6
1Duke Johnson50000522002.

Dalvin Cook (FanDuel: $6700, DraftKings: $5900)

1vs NO512212705310013.716.715.219.7
2PROJ-Dodds16700.33180. (H=24)14.2 (H=33)
2PROJ-Tremblay16710.34280.112.316.314.3 (H=29)16.3 (H=42)
2PROJ-Bloom17650.34270.111.615.613.6 (H=27)15.6 (H=39)

Latavius Murray (FanDuel: $5600, DraftKings: $4100)

1vs NO326000000.
2PROJ-Dodds3140.11602.63.63.1 (H=2)3.6 (H=4)
2PROJ-Tremblay1400000.40.40.4 (H=0)0.4 (H=0)
2PROJ-Bloom270.10001.31.31.3 (H=0)1.3 (H=0)

Jerick McKinnon (FanDuel: $4800, DraftKings: $3200)

1vs NO11350333203.
2PROJ-Dodds3130.11702.63.63.1 (H=2)3.6 (H=5)
2PROJ-Tremblay27021602.34.33.3 (H=3)4.3 (H=7)
2PROJ-Bloom2603250. (H=7)6.7 (H=16)

Steelers vs WR

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)14T (-2.9)13 (-6.2)13 (-4.4)13 (-6.7)
1Corey Coleman536553100011.316.313.816.3
1Ricardo Louis16323200003.

Stefon Diggs (FanDuel: $6500, DraftKings: $6100)

1vs NO58879321-6020.727.724.227.7
2PROJ-Dodds6600.30007.813.810.8 (H=18)13.8 (H=30)
2PROJ-Tremblay5680.41609.814.812.3 (H=23)14.8 (H=34)
2PROJ-Bloom6560.31407.813.810.8 (H=18)13.8 (H=30)

Adam Thielen (FanDuel: $5800, DraftKings: $5000)

1vs NO65109157000015.724.720.227.7
2PROJ-Dodds4500.31407.211.29.2 (H=16)11.2 (H=26)
2PROJ-Tremblay5740.30009.214.211.7 (H=24)14.2 (H=39)
2PROJ-Bloom4540.30007.211.29.2 (H=16)11.2 (H=26)

Laquon Treadwell (FanDuel: $5100, DraftKings: $3300)

1vs NO3611700000.
2PROJ-Dodds2240.20003.65.64.6 (H=5)5.6 (H=11)
2PROJ-Tremblay1130.10001.92.92.4 (H=1)2.9 (H=3)
2PROJ-Bloom11200001.22.21.7 (H=0)2.2 (H=2)

Jarius Wright (FanDuel: $4500, DraftKings: $3000)

1vs NO15212100002.
2PROJ-Dodds1150.10002.13.12.6 (H=2)3.1 (H=4)
2PROJ-Tremblay2230.10002.94.93.9 (H=4)4.9 (H=10)
2PROJ-Bloom11100001.12.11.6 (H=1)2.1 (H=2)

Steelers vs TE

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)18 (-0.3)20 (+1.4)19 (+0.5)20 (+1.3)
1Seth DeValve31544204.

Kyle Rudolph (FanDuel: $5500, DraftKings: $4200)

1vs NO55332618.611.610.111.6
2PROJ-Dodds4390. (H=12)9.7 (H=24)
2PROJ-Tremblay4390. (H=12)9.7 (H=24)
2PROJ-Bloom4350. (H=11)9.3 (H=22)

Steelers vs PK

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)9 (-3.0)9 (-3.0)8T (-4.0) (+0.0)
1Zane Gonzalez1111444.00.0

Kai Forbath (FanDuel: $4500, DraftKings: $--)

1vs NO3323111112.00.0
2PROJ-Dodds1.721.92778.2 (H=17)8.2
2PROJ-Tremblay1. (H=10)6.2

Steelers vs TD

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)8T (-4.4)8T (-4.4)10T (-5.6)10T (-5.6)
1Cleveland Browns2129011000333.03.0

Minnesota Vikings (FanDuel: $4400, DraftKings: $2700)

1vs NO19.0034410000112.02.0
2PROJ-Dodds25.303652.210.600. (H=14)7.3 (H=23)
2PROJ-Tremblay26.253332.31.10.600. (H=15)7.8 (H=25)

Vikings vs QB

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)15 (+0.7)15 (+0.7)15 (+0.7)15 (-0.2)
1Drew Brees6227372911000018.618.615.615.6

Ben Roethlisberger (FanDuel: $8000, DraftKings: $6700)

1@ CLE602436263213-8019.419.416.716.7
2PROJ-Dodds24372701.91250. (H=49)21.2 (H=59)
2PROJ-Tremblay22362431.71.1460.219.719.719.7 (H=43)19.7 (H=52)
2PROJ-Bloom233624321.1240.1202020.0 (H=44)20.0 (H=53)

Vikings vs RB

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)11 (-4.6)18 (-1.3)14T (-2.8)17 (-1.8)
1Mark Ingram266170555407.112.19.612.1
1Alvin Kamara317180642003.

LeVeon Bell (FanDuel: $9000, DraftKings: $9800)

1@ CLE4310320631504.
2PROJ-Dodds18780.55350.114.919.917.4 (H=31)19.9 (H=36)
2PROJ-Tremblay18720.54260.113.417.415.4 (H=25)17.4 (H=28)
2PROJ-Bloom18770.65440.418.123.120.6 (H=41)23.1 (H=46)

James Conner (FanDuel: $5100, DraftKings: $4500)

1@ CLE8411000001.
2PROJ-Dodds5160.11602.83.83.3 (H=3)3.8 (H=4)
2PROJ-Tremblay3120.10001.81.81.8 (H=1)1.8 (H=1)
2PROJ-Bloom3100.10001.61.61.6 (H=0)1.6 (H=1)

Vikings vs WR

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)17 (-1.9)17 (-0.2)16T (-0.9)17 (-0.7)
1Ted Ginn42545301505.
1TommyLee Lewis11325200005.

Antonio Brown (FanDuel: $9400, DraftKings: $9400)

1@ CLE511111182000018.229.223.732.2
2PROJ-Dodds7870.700012.919.916.4 (H=27)19.9 (H=37)
2PROJ-Tremblay81090.600014.522.518.5 (H=33)22.5 (H=46)
2PROJ-Bloom7900.600012.619.616.1 (H=26)19.6 (H=36)

Martavis Bryant (FanDuel: $6200, DraftKings: $5500)

1@ CLE50621400001.
2PROJ-Dodds4560.50008.612.610.6 (H=19)12.6 (H=29)
2PROJ-Tremblay5600.40008.413.410.9 (H=20)13.4 (H=32)
2PROJ-Bloom4510.50008.112.110.1 (H=17)12.1 (H=27)

Eli Rogers (FanDuel: $4600, DraftKings: $3600)

1@ CLE39421100001.
2PROJ-Dodds2290.20004.16.15.1 (H=7)6.1 (H=12)
2PROJ-Tremblay2240.20003.65.64.6 (H=6)5.6 (H=10)
2PROJ-Bloom3230.10002.95.94.4 (H=5)5.9 (H=12)

JuJu Smith-Schuster (FanDuel: $4800, DraftKings: $3000)

1@ CLE250000000000.00.0
2PROJ-Dodds1150.10002.13.12.6 (H=2)3.1 (H=4)
2PROJ-Tremblay000000000.0 (H=0)0.0 (H=0)
2PROJ-Bloom000000000.0 (H=0)0.0 (H=0)

Vikings vs TE

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)25 (+4.9)24 (+5.6)24 (+5.2)24 (+5.5)
1Coby Fleener326554111.416.413.916.4

Jesse James (FanDuel: $5400, DraftKings: $3200)

1@ CLE548641216.
2PROJ-Dodds3320. (H=8)7.4 (H=20)
2PROJ-Tremblay3240. (H=8)7.8 (H=21)
2PROJ-Bloom4350. (H=13)9.9 (H=33)

Vance McDonald (FanDuel: $4600, DraftKings: $2600)

1@ CLE181000000.00.0
2PROJ-Dodds000000.0 (H=0)0.0 (H=0)
2PROJ-Tremblay000000.0 (H=0)0.0 (H=0)

Vikings vs PK

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)27T (+6.0)27T (+6.0)27 (+6.0) (+0.0)
1Wil Lutz4411131314.00.0

Chris Boswell (FanDuel: $4700, DraftKings: $--)

1@ CLE0033333.00.0
2PROJ-Dodds1.722. (H=18)8.7
2PROJ-Tremblay22. (H=21)9.5

Vikings vs TD

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)2T (-6.4)2T (-6.4)1T (-8.6)1T (-8.6)
1New Orleans Saints2947010000110.00.0

Pittsburgh Steelers (FanDuel: $4700, DraftKings: $3000)

1@ CLE18.0023771001151518.018.0
2PROJ-Dodds19.203522.50.60.700. (H=16)8.4 (H=26)
2PROJ-Tremblay16.753522.51.20.900.5121212.0 (H=31)12.0 (H=49)